Thursday, December 24, 2020

Donner Memorial

 (GPS: N39 19.350 W120 14.020)

Merry Christmas!

This is the wrap-up blog on my two trips to Donner Pass and Donner Lake. It is not my intent to give much of the history of the Donner Party with this blog. I think there is so much out there already that you really should check out some search engines, Wikipedia, encyclopedias, or read some books about the Donner Party if you want more information on the tragedy. The trips that I took to this area just fulfilled a curiosity I had after being told the story in classes growing up, seeing documentaries, and a few readings. 

I state in the video I was a little underwhelmed visiting the Donner Memorial State Park. We were there for the history, but most people there were for vacation. It was like traveling to a beach at the ocean where people are on the beach, some out in the water, and some out on boats. It was packed, but I did not blame them for this since COVID-19 had kept people indoors and isolated for so long...and still is as I write this. However, this is the part I regretted coming in August rather than in the previous October when there would not have been people. There were some areas I wanted to take pictures and videos of, but too many young teens in swimsuits were around that were in my way. 

You have to pay an entrance fee for the park. When we did that at the museum we were told that the inside museum was closed due to COVID-19, but the outside could be visited. So, that was part of the letdown about this place. Let me show you the two monuments they have.

Outside the museum there is a monument with a statue of a family.

There were a bunch of signs with some of the history and quotes from some of the survivors of the Donner Party tragedy. We then followed a short trail that goes near a stream.

The Murphy Cabin would have been here. The rock is the north end and fireplace of the cabin. On June 20, 1847 General Stephen Kerny buried the bodies found in the area under the cabin here. The sign lists all the members of the Donner Party that survived and those that died.

I walked around the trail they had. I liked this part of the stream. Obviously, it was a nice summer day. The area around was beautiful! However, I tried to imagine what it would have been like in the winter of 1846-47 with cold icy snow all around. As I often say, nature does not play by rules. The Donner Party did not have the comforts of life that those on vacation playing around the on streams, rivers, and lake have. It was truly survival of the fittest for them. This is something to be remembered as the world currently deals with COVID-19.

Admittedly,  I do not think the video clips I had to put together for a video were really that great. Again, it was that feeling of being underwhelmed at the state park. There was just not enough unique material to present. I thought and thought about this for the past few months. I thought I would tack them on to the end of the previous video. That did not seem right. There were other ideas, but I decided to use Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 as a tool to show the area. Then add the few clips. So, this is sort of a experiment for this video. It is not the type of thing I expect everyone to think is really that great, but you cannot always hit it out of the park in every video.

Flying Over Donner (Youtube Video)

I think this will be the last blog of 2020. I decided the next adventure I was going to share will probably show up at the beginning of the new year. I have a bunch of things I want to say, and changes I am considering that will be announced at some point early in 2021. Until then please enjoy and make the best you can of the holidays this year!

Music from used is Beauty Flow and A Very Brady Special.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Historic Roller Pass Hike

 (GPS: N39 17.710 W120 19.195)

This was the hike I thought we were going to do in October, 2019. When we got there the icy snow was bad enough that we did not feel comfortable taking my sister-in-law. We decided to come back for this one in August, 2020. This time we were getting gas in Truckee and noticed a sign saying the road was closed! Great, we just drove a few hours to get denied a second time! 

We had an idea to get back on the freeway and come around to the trailhead from another way. Otherwise we would have to look for something else in the area to do. Fortunately, after about a ten to fifteen minute drive, we were able to get to the trailhead from the other side of historic Donner Pass. Somewhat relieved we headed up the trail.

 This is just up the trail and looking back at the road to Donner Pass. We drove up this way in October, 2019. This time they were doing some work on it. If you look closely you can see they blocked off the road. I was glad I took some pictures and video from that area in October which you can see in the October 31st blog. I was not able to access it this time around.

The picture above is the historic Donner Pass. This was the pass the Donner Party was attempting to get up to in the winter of 1846-47. Not shown is Donner Lake which is down below on what would be the right side of the picture. They stayed at the lake, and the goal was to get up to this point from there.

This is all am going to say about Donner Pass because we turned around and started hiking the trail away from Donner. There were two other passes discovered during that time period that were relatively easier if you knew were they were. One would be Roller Pass and the other Coldstream Pass. For this hike we went to Roller Pass.

This is the type of terrain we encountered on the way to Roller Pass. Honestly, this was a pretty easy up and back hike that only took about two hours. Very gentle uphill, quiet, and relaxing. I would consider this more in line with well maintained trails of Yosemite or something on the Western Sierra. We were in the mood for something easy so this was good one to do.

This is Roller Pass. The picture does not completely do it justice, but there is a big incline here. You have to imagine trying to take your wagons up this way during the late 1840's. They estimated a little less than 10,000 people came through this way during that period. The following sign might be helpful:
If you want to read the details you should be able to click the picture to get the bigger version. 

After spending some time checking out the pass we decided to go a little further. The following is where we ended up looking back:

Roller Pass is on the left side and you can see some of Donner Lake on the upper right part of the picture. We had the option of hiking up to Mt. Judah which is the high point you see. We just were not as motivated to do that. I am sure the views from there are great, but this was not like climbing a peak in the Eastern Sierra which are much higher. There is always another time for that if we ever get back this way. So, we were satisfied with getting to Roller Pass and a little beyond.

The Historical Roller Pass (Youtube Video)

Music from used is Beauty Flow, A Very Brady Special, Ancient Rite.